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Knowledge, apathy barriers for asthma control – re

Knowledge, apathy barriers for asthma control – research

A poor understanding of what asthma is and apathy towards the treatments available for it are the biggest barriers to people controlling their asthma, research released today shows. Qualitative research, conducted by Wellington-based State Of Mind, has looked at the behaviour of people with asthma and identified three distinct groups:

those who are knowledgeable about the condition and careful in their management of it those who are aware they have asthma but have low understanding of the condition or what treatments do those who either don’t know or ignore that they have asthma and only seek treatment in emergencies.

State of Mind spokesperson Sarah Hodgetts says the majority of people interviewed did not understand that asthma was a serious disease and thought they only had asthma when they experienced symptoms.

They then typically relied on reliever medicine (such as Ventolin) rather than regularly using preventer inhalers (Flixotide/Respocort/Beclazone) to protect themselves from getting symptoms in the first place. “This group of people typically have a poor medical knowledge of what asthma is, no acknowledgement that it is a serious condition, consider attacks to be uncontrollable and are unaware that their symptoms are preventable,” Sarah Hodgetts says.

“Many people with asthma regard the condition in the same way they do a common cold – as something they have no control over and as something they have little way of preventing. They often have preventer inhalers prescribed to them but are not good at using them, and don’t understand it is the preventer inhalers that can help avoid the onset of asthma symptoms, like a dry cough or wheeziness.”

“Combined with this there is a high level of dependence on health professionals to magically fix their problem, rather than accepting responsibility for managing it themselves.”

This has serious health implications for New Zealand with asthma affecting about half a million people, with higher levels of prevalence among Maori and Pacific Island people.

However, Sarah Hodgetts says that even though many people were not currently controlling their asthma, they did believe that their quality of life would be better without their asthma symptoms.

By talking to their health professional about their asthma and by adopting a self-management plan, people with asthma can begin to enjoy a life without the hindrance of asthma symptoms, she says.

State of Mind was commissioned by Government drug funding agency PHARMAC and interviewed 52 people with asthma and 10 health providers in the Wellington and Auckland regions.

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